How to Train a Kishu Ken

The Kishu Ken is a dog of noteworthy endurance, showing nobility, dignity and naive feeling. His temperament is faithful, docile and very alert.

The Kishu Ken is a large game hound used in the densely forested mountains of Japan. They are spirited, alert, and rustic dogs with compact, well-developed muscles. Kishu are often white-coated, medium-sized, with erect ears, a tail held over the back, and keen expression.



The Japanese dog breeds are ancient and developed from a common source. In Japan, spitz-type hunting dogs (canis familiaris palustris) lived over 3000 years ago. The Kishu Ken (ken meaning “dog” in Japanese) developed from tough, medium-sized dogs that roamed the mountains of Japan many centuries ago. They were the matagi’s dogs, used to hunt boar and deer. The region in Japan called Wakayama is best known for the breeding and development of the Kishu. In early years, Kishus came in different colors, but the white-coated Kishus showed superior qualities and therefore were used more often for breeding.

The hunters preferred the white color because of easy visibility. Working dogs were bred for efficiency and usefulness. Prior to 1934, there were Kishus in white, red, brindle and some that were spotted. But the solid colors became the only accepted colors and the spotted-coat Kishus had disappeared by 1945.

Today, the white coat is the preferred color and virtually the only color seen in show Kishus. In 1934, the Kishu was designated a “Memorial of Nature” in its native country. The Japanese people are proud of their dogs and bestow honors and praise on them. This pride and commitment to their national treasures, and the Kishu is one of them, is the reason the Kishus are rarely exported.


Kishu Ken are a generally healthy breed with few observations of degenerative joint conditions, no known degenerative eye conditions, and no known testable genetic conditions. They may, however, suffer from a handful of minor to serious autoimmune conditions. These includ: Environmental & Food Allergies, Autoimmune Thyroiditis, Addisons Disease, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Cutaneous, and Discoid Lupus.

Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
  • Patella Evaluation
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation


Kishu Ken shed their coat one to two times a year in seasonal “moults.” Bathing and drying with a high velocity drier during these time will get rid of dead coat. They may need occasional maintenance with a rubber brush or slicker and should have nail trims as needed.


Kishu Ken require daily exercise and mental stimulation. They do best with daily walks, hikes, or other fun activities.


Kishu Ken are easily motivated with food and the bond they share with their owner but need fast paced and upbeat training sessions. While they need a consistent owner/trainer, training should never be harsh or use punitive methods. A Kishu trained with these methods may become contentious or butt heads with their handler. They do very well in sports and may be suitable for agility, obedience, rally, nosework, fast cat, coursing ability tests, barn hunt, and more.


Kishu Ken do well on a high quality kibble or nutritionally balanced raw diet. Some Kishu Ken have allergy like reactions or skin issues when fed diets high in starch content or beef and chicken heavy diets.


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